Mr. Andy Stewart
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he will be in a position to invite more milk producers to commit themselves to joining the outgoers' scheme.
§ Mr. MacGregor
In England and Wales 4,826 applicants originally expressed interest in becoming outgoers and at the beginning of last month we invited 2,747 of the smaller producers to commit themselves to the scheme. We expected however that a considerable number might, in the event, decide not to go out of production after all and this has in fact proved to be the case. We are therefore now able to invite a further group of about 380 applicants to take the place of those who have dropped out.
The original group comprised those with quota of up to 200,000 litres and if all had accepted this would have amounted to 278.8 million litres of quota released. The second group now being invited to join comprises those between 200,000 and 250,000 litres, amounting to a further 94.2 million litres. As before, a small number are being excluded because milk is only a relatively small part of their overall farming enterprise.
In the light of the response we receive we shall send out further invitations as necessary to replace any producers who drop out.
The original target of buying up 289 million litres of quota in England and Wales was more than four times oversubscribed. Even though a significant number of producers may drop out, I have no reason to believe that the target will not be met.